Connecticut Legislative Update

Samantha Dynowski

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Your Sierra Club Connecticut Legislative Committee has been busy.  On February 21, we held our first lobby day of 2019. Climate Action Lobby Day brought advocates together with state legislative leaders to push for action on bills aimed at addressing climate change.

 

The legislative committee has also been writing and delivering testimony on bills addressing topics that range from methane gas leaks to solar net metering to plastic pollution.  As of this writing, the good news is that many bills that will have a positive impact are still alive and advancing through the process.

Among them are:

  • Senate Bill 232 will require repairs of pipelines leaking more than 1% of methane gas (from the current 3%) and will prevent gas companies from getting compensated for leaked gas.  Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas (GHG) in our atmosphere and by far the most damaging. Over 10 years, methane is 100 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

 

  • Senate Bill 753 bans fracking waste statewide. Over 50 towns have passed ordinances to prohibit ALL oil and gas drilling and extraction wastes. SB 753 would give the same comprehensive protections to all Connecticut residents.

 

  • House Bill 7156 will expand Connecticut’s offshore wind portfolio.

  • House Bill 7251 will fix the destructive solar net metering provision passed last year to ensure residential and commercial solar remains viable in the state.

 

  • Senate Bill 468 is another good solar bill that would make it possible to install solar panels on state land near public highways.  This could make valuable use of currently vacant public land, increase revenues to the State, support renewable energy generation, add jobs, and provide critical support to the adoption of electric vehicles.

 

  • House Bill 7205 is focused on electric vehicles and will require the state to lead by example and transition the state fleet of light-duty vehicles to 50% electric by 2030, as well as transition the state fleet of transit buses to 30% electric by 2030. The bill also secures the electric vehicle incentive program, Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR).

 

  • House Bill 5002, Connecticut’s Green New Deal focused bill, is only a concept at this writing, but we have high hopes that it will tackle the climate crisis and pollution, create good, high-paying jobs, and counteract racial and economic inequity. This is an opportunity to move Connecticut equitably toward 100% clean and renewable energy and away from dirty fossil fuels.

 

  • House Bill 1003 addresses single-use plastic bags.  As currently written, the bill does not address our concerns. Our goal is for a ban on all single-use carryout plastic bags and a fee on paper bags to ensure that shoppers use reusable bags.

 

The work isn’t done yet though! Many bills still need to be tweaked and amended as noted above, and some very important topics are not yet on the table:

 

  • Protecting energy efficiency funds from being diverted in 2019 - The two-year budget that stole energy efficiency funds to plug a budget hole in 2018 is scheduled to do it again unless legislators prevent it.  

 

  • Ratepayer funding of interstate pipelines - This bill would take off the books a policy requiring ratepayers to pay for interstate pipeline expansion. This policy is not currently being used and should never be, given our state’s mandated requirements to reduce greenhouse gases and deploy clean and renewable energy. Connecticut ratepayers have subsidized the intrastate gas expansion for years.

 

Now is a great time to check in with your state Senator and state Representative, and let them know what you think.

 

As the legislative session continues, we will contact you with opportunities to take action on bills if and when they need a push from you!

 

Onward!

Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.

Photo: Legislative building in Hartford, CT

Photo credit: Michel G.